The Seahawks cornerbacks weren’t terrible in 2018 but they need to improve. And they have to fill the void left by Justin Coleman too.
The Seahawks have talent at cornerback. They may not be as good currently as they were during the Richard Sherman years. There isn’t a true shutdown corner on the team. Yet. But one may be on the roster. There could also be a young corner starting his last year in Seattle. Add that nickelback Justin Coleman left in free agency and one has a cornerback room in need of much improvement.
Shaquill Griffin simply has to be better in 2018. He was moved to left corner last offseason to replace Sherman. Griffin did a bad job. After a promising rookie season when he allowed a quarterback rating-against of 75.2, he jumped to a QBR-allowed of 100.4 in his second year. This is nowhere near good enough to help Seattle go deep in the postseason.
Griffin played terribly in the Wild Card game against the Cowboys. He didn’t hold containment on running plays and got burned for a huge touchdown pass just before halftime. Griffin simply didn’t play like the player he was asked to replace. Had a 2014-era Sherman been playing corner and not Griffin, the Seahawks would have won the game.
Griffin ranked as the 111th “best” cornerback out of 112 possibilities in 2018, according to Pro Football Focus. He didn’t tackle overly well and mostly didn’t play like a Pete Carroll-coached corner. But Griffin does have the size and speed to improve. He better in 2019 or Seattle might look elsewhere for a starting corner in 2020.
In comparison, rookie Tre Flowers was really good. This from a player who was still learning how to play corner after being a safety in college. Don’t get me wrong. Flowers was not perfect. He still allowed too much to happen in front of him, at times appearing more afraid to make an inexperienced mistake than try for the ball.
But it wouldn’t be surprising to see Flowers be much better in his second season simply based on his experience. Flowers is a solid tackler and likes to hit. According to Pro Football Focus, Flowers ranked third in the league for cornerbacks against the run last year. He also has the size and speed of a perfect Seahawks corner. Flowers may not be ready to make the jump to left corner yet, but if Griffin plays at his 2018 level and Flowers is even better than he was last season, Seattle could flip the two corners.
As far as replacing Coleman, the first guy to try will be Akeem King. King, in far less snaps, ranked higher than Flowers or Griffin in overall defense. But King also doesn’t play out wide. His size is perfect for slot corner, though. If he can come near Coleman’s reliability there, Seattle will be happy. If not, Seattle will look to quickly replace King with rookie Ugo Amadi or a veteran.
After King, Griffin and Flowers, there is not a true definite to make the roster at corner. Likely Neiko Thorpe will simply because of his special teams ability. But Seattle also has veteran corners Jamar Taylor and Kalan Reed on the 90-man roster.
Cornerback needs not simply be a solid part of the Seahawks team, it needs to be one of the more productive units. There are too many question marks now to call the position reliable and good. But the potential is there. The potential is there for the unit to be truly bad as well, however.